The Billion Prices Project: Using Online Prices for Measurement and Research

Alberto Cavallo, Roberto Rigobon

NBER Working Paper No. 22111
Issued in March 2016, Revised in April 2016
NBER Program(s):   IFM   ME

New data-gathering techniques, often referred to as “Big Data” have the potential to improve statistics and empirical research in economics. In this paper we describe our work with online data at the Billion Prices Project at MIT and discuss key lessons for both inflation measurement and some fundamental research questions in macro and international economics. In particular, we show how online prices can be used to construct daily price indexes in multiple countries and to avoid measurement biases that distort evidence of price stickiness and international relative prices. We emphasize how Big Data technologies are providing macro and international economists with opportunities to stop treating the data as “given” and to get directly involved with data collection.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


Supplementary materials for this paper:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w22111

Published: Alberto Cavallo & Roberto Rigobon, 2016. "The Billion Prices Project: Using Online Prices for Measurement and Research," Journal of Economic Perspectives, vol 30(2), pages 151-178. citation courtesy of

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Cavallo w22142 Are Online and Offline Prices Similar? Evidence from Large Multi-Channel Retailers
Cavallo w21490 Scraped Data and Sticky Prices
Aguiar, Chatterjee, Cole, and Stangebye w22125 Quantitative Models of Sovereign Debt Crises
Hansen and Ohanian w22122 Neoclassical Models in Macroeconomics
Al-Ubaydli and List w22113 Field Experiments in Markets
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us